School of Architecture College of Design

ARCHITECTURAL FILMMAKING: BEHIND THE FACADE

 

Architectural Filmmaking: Day1

Ian Harris gave us a great introduction to the study and act of architectural filmmaking. By understanding the student’s past filmmaking experience, he determined exactly where the class could be directed, and then pushed further. In the morning, we paired up into teams of two and chose our sites: Christ Lutheran Church by Eero and Eliel Saarinen, Guthrie Theater by Jean Nouvel, Lakewood Cemetery Mausoleum by HGA Architects, Mill City Museum by MS+R, and the American Swedish Institute by HGA. Once the new cinematography equipment was shown, we were ready to get out there and start filming!  

 

 

The new equipment included skates, hand-held stabilizers, universal phone mounts, tripods, monopods, and of course, the selfie stick. At this point, we learned how difficult it was to create the slow and stable gestures shown to us in the precedent films. A steady hand to compliment a focused eye can go a long way in the art of documenting architecture. Given the short nature of the class, we set out to explore this art form at a quick pace.

 

 

So, for the rest of the afternoon, all throughout Rapson hall, you could see us doing some form of tai chi with the selfie stick, taking the skate for a walk on its leash, or laying on the ground to get the perfect shot. Finding the most fluid motions can be key in the discovery.

 

 

Architectural Filmmaking: Day 2

Day 2 of Catalyst week started with a review of some video taken the day before. We spent Monday afternoon experimenting with the filming equipment, so we discussed which techniques were successful and which were not.  

 

 

We were then joined by Christian Korab, a local architectural filmmaker. He played several of his short films, and discussed his philosophy about architectural filmmaking. He urged us to capture the gesture and the meaning of the building, not to simply document it. He left us with the advice, “shoot first and ask questions later.”

At noon we heard Ian’s public lecture about the importance of filmmaking for architecture firms for marketing, internal circulation, and documenting projects and process. Ian pointed out that the architecture profession is slow to adopt new technology such as filmmaking, and it makes us look stubborn and archaic.

 

After the lunch break, it was time to begin filming at our various building sites. We divided up equipment and headed out into the world, the Guthrie team starting with a stabilizer and a skate. The Guthrie team spent a lot of time filming outside, using a tripod for panning shots of the building exterior and context. We then headed inside to document the interior spaces and to scout locations for future shots.

 

and think about it in terms of film. This set us up for productive filming days on Wednesday and Thursday. We then returned to Rapson Hall for Doris Kim Sung’s lecture on Smart Materials.

 

 

Architectural Filmmaking: Day 3


We are getting excited!  We tried out our gear yesterday around Rapson Hall, and today we get to travel to our projects and start production.

 


The first day on site is always full of trial and error, and some successes. Sundus and I have the Minneapolis Public Library, designed by Cesar Pelli, and fortunately for us, this project is strikingly beautiful and so it’s quite easy to get what I have been calling “glorious” shots of the building.


One of the ‘errors’ is the fact that tripods are not allowed to be used inside the building. This limitation was a hard one to accept, because the tripod gives the most steady shots.It is quite common for public institutitions to not allow tripods due to the potential for litigation. In fact, many of the other groups also had similar restrictions, or had limited hours in which they could film the building. I think that each group has learned that which there are constraints where you might be filming, whatever those constraints might be, is that there is always ways around them or another way of obtaining the shot that is needed anyway. Much about filming is about being resourceful and manipulating those resources to obtain the results that you want. The filming process is truly one of trial and error. Try something, watch the video, and do it again if that particular result isn’t desired.

 


Prior to filming at our sites, we had a guest speaker, Christian Korab come to speak with us about architectural cinematography, and showed our group more high tech devices including a skate rail as well as Nikon DSLR’s (devices we weren’t allowed to use on our films) and several of the films that he has created.

The bar for our films has been raised.

 

Architectural Filmmaking: Day 4

Today was the last day to add some footage and start editing. We started the day with watching some previous films of all groups and discussing each group’s main concept. Based on our pre-production footage, Ian gave us the last suggestions for the final shooting, which were very helpful. Also we exchanged our equipment with other groups so that we all had the chance to shoot our building with different techniques.

 

 

The schedule was to go back to our buildings and make the final footage for the last time and come back again to the Rapson Hall’s computer lab and start the editing. We were all excited and a bit nervous. So each group went back to their buildings and Based on Ian’s last suggestions we did the final footage and we all met with Ian In the computer lab to start editing. During our editing process Ian was there to help us. All of us worked hard to get ready for tomorrow and produced the final edition of our films. We were all so excited to see the final films and present them for the audience.


 

 

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